Unless you’re subscribed to an unlimited data subscription with your mobile carrier, using data services through your Android device can get tricky. If you are not careful, you could consume data beyond your monthly limit and end up paying extra. The good news is that there are apps that can help you monitor your data usage. One highly recommended app is Data Detective, which does more than just help you with data usage monitoring.

In a nutshell, Data Detective can

  • monitor mobile network traffic (4G/3G/Edge/GPRS) and Wi-Fi network traffic.
  • show you how much data each app has consumed over a certain period and show estimated costs for such data consumption.
  • display individual and summary statistics of total data sent or received according to the connection type.
  • show usage costs in your local currency.
  • provide tips and reminders regarding mobile data use.
  • let you set the mobile data counter to various periods (e.g., last 24 hours, last 7 days, last 30 days, and current month).
  • let you choose from several data subscription types.
  • automatically start in the background when you boot up your phone.

When you launch Data detective for the first time, it will ask you to set your local currency, the first day of your billing cycle, and your subscription plan type. The app will let you choose from different types of subscription plan types. These include pay as you go, monthly cap with throttling, monthly cap with overage fees, and unlimited data plan. You will also need to determine your maximum quota if you applied for a monthly subscription plan.

If all are set and ready to go, Data Detective will now bring you to its main page comprising of three tabs: Quota & Tips, Applications, and Totals.

The Quota & Tips tab lets you have more control on your data consumption by letting you know your mobile quota. With this quota, you will be able to check whether you’re using less or spending more with your selected data subscription.

The Quota & Tips tab also provides you useful tips that can help you save with your monthly data consumption. For instance, if your mobile data consumption is less than your mobile quota, it will be wise to transfer to a cheaper data subscription plan. On the other hand, if you frequently use more data than what your current plan allows, it might be better to switch to a higher data plan.

The Applications tab displays all your apps with their respective data usage. You can also monitor bandwidth consumption (in KB) over mobile data or Wi-Fi and its total cost.

The Totals tab displays a graphical presentation of your total data consumption over mobile data plan and Wi-Fi. Usage data is presented as a pie chart. Gray sections of the pie chart represent data sent, while green represents data received.

To help you organize things, Data Detective also lets you filter its data. You can do this by pressing Menu on either the Applications or Totals tab and select a time frame.

If you’re searching for apps that will help you control your monthly data consumption, then Data Detective might be worth checking out. Download Data Detective free from the Android Market.

Do you use a data usage monitoring tool like Data Detective? If not, how do you stay within your subscription’s monthly data limit?